Are there inexpensive ways to make a bathroom show better when you are selling your home, without a renovation?
The answer is a resounding YES!
In fact, when someone is selling their apartment or house, I don’t recommend a renovation as the buyers would more likely want to renovate for their own tastes and preferences.
So the objective becomes removing the “ick” factor. What can we do to spruce up and update this space so that the condition and datedness don’t turn off a buyer? We want to get past the buyer turn-off and at least get the bathroom to a condition where the buyer can move in and live with the way it looks for a few months before they tackle the renovation.
First of all, bathrooms should be CLEAN. I always tell my sellers to envision a hotel bathroom: it should be sparkling clean and free of any personal toiletries, shampoos, children’s bath toys, etc. when showing the home.
The biggest impact in updating a bathroom but at a reasonable cost is changing out outdated and/or poor condition:
- Lighting fixtures
- Faucets and, if possible, tub and shower fixtures (a friend of mine spray painted her brass fixtures a brushed silver and they looked great and are still holding up two years later)
- Cabinet door and drawer handles (this same friend spray painted these, including the hinges on the doors)
You don’t have to shop at high-end specialty stores for these items. Try a Home Depot or Lowe’s.
Bathroom Before Updating
Bathroom After Updating
(tiles regrouted, tub recaulked, walls painted, new accessories added)
The next biggest impact is to paint the walls. Paint always freshens up any space. But if the tiles are white, don’t paint the wall white. Choose a color that will add some contrast but is neutral such as pale gray or warm beige. And it there is wallpaper, remove it.
And if you are going to paint the walls, consider removing those large, frameless mirrors that span the length of the vanity. These are dated, and smaller framed mirrors are more in fashion these days.
And if you’re not painting the walls and don’t want to remove the mirror, it can be updated by placing trim around it to give the appearance of being framed.
Then tackle the tub area. If the tub is in poor condition, or of a dated color, it can be re-glazed by a professional for $400 to $500, much cheaper than removing and replacing the tub. Often the grout between the tiles surrounding the tub is mildewed or crumbling. A re-grouting can do wonders and make this area look like you just had new tile installed. Also, removing old and moldy caulking at the top of the tub where it meets the tile, as well as where it meets the floor and re-caulking can give a fresh and clean appearance.
The sink, vanity and vanity top are additional areas to consider having a big impact if they are dated. Depending upon the price point of the home you are selling, at the low end you can replace the entire unit for about $500 by buying one at the big box home improvement stores.
Or if you have an outdated oak vanity, painting it in a darker color with a semi-gloss finish, and affixing new hardware will go miles towards an updated look.
Bathroom After Updating
(outdated wallpaper and brass towel bar removed, walls painted, new accessories added)
You can also just replace the vanity top, some of which come with a sink, for a few hundred dollars.
No need to replace the toilet usually, however replacing a well-worn toilet seat is a must!
In some cases where towel bars and toilet paper holders are affixed to drywall, rather than to the tile, these can be changed out as well.
Then of course there are the finishing touches: new shower curtain and hooks, bath rug, and fluffy bath towels; artwork; matching accessories such as soap dishes and wastebasket; bath oils and soaps placed strategically in a tray or basket with rolled up towels and a loofah or back brush; and a potted fake orchid. You want buyers to feel like they’ve walked into the closest thing to a spa and imagine themselves enjoying that space.
And before the open house or other showings, make sure:
- Toiletries, shampoos, used bars of soap are stored away
- Wastebasket is emptied
- Toilet seat lid is down
- Fluffy new towels are out and used towels are in the laundry
About the Author: Donna Dazzo is president and owner of Designed to Appeal, a home staging company serving New York City and the Hamptons. Designed to Appeal helps homeowners and real estate agents sell homes quickly and profitably, by expertly creating an environment that buyers want to live in. Designed to Appeal also helps homeowners not looking to sell with interior redesign, which involves using mostly what the homeowner already has. Donna writes frequently on home staging and interior decorating and design topics.